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6/16/15

EU Refugee Policy - EU ′ducking out′ of responsibility for refugees, author says

According to the UNHCR, more than 50 million people are displaced; many millions are refugees. Comparatively few actually make their way to Europe; last year, about 276,000 tried to cross the borders irregularly - most of them by boat across the Mediterranean.

Deutsche Welle: "Shipwreck - the failure of European refugee policy" is the title of the book you wrote with Wolfgang Grenz and Stefan Kessler, it's just been published in Germany. Why did you decide to write abut a topic that's constantly in the news? 

Julian Lehmann: We thought it would be a good idea to team up the knowledge we have and come up with something readable for a broad audience that combines our perspectives. I work from the perspective of a think tank and with a legal background, my colleagues are or were in advocacy organizations. The title? Literally, it's not only a shipwreck of failing policies but obviously of what we see happening every day in the Mediterranean.

What, then, is fundamentally wrong with refugee policies in Europe?
On the abstract level, there is a huge gap between the rhetoric of refugee protection and the reality of securing safe entry for asylum seekers. There is also a lack of will to treat what is a collective action problem - the only way you can deal with such a problem is collectively. So we, the EU, say we're not responsible for asylum seekers unless they're on the brink of drowning. We have also failed to develop means of sharing responsibility that are worth the name.

Can this shipwrecked EU 'refugee policy' boat be pulled back from the brink?
If the EU wanted to regain credibility, it would undertake steps that demonstrate its acceptance of refugee protection as a common purpose. It would mount a commonly funded, bigger search and rescue operation - that would absolutely be the very first step - it would dump those military plans against smugglers, it would agree at least on a temporary quota system to assist Italy, it would support Turkey and other countries of refuge by harboring Syrian refugees with resettlement, and it would consolidate the asylum system in the member states. We do make these calls in the book.

Read more: EU ′ducking out′ of responsibility for refugees, author says | Europe | DW.DE | 16.06.2015

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